I won Kevin and I in India in a goodreads giveaway. Frank Kusy is a travel writer who has written about many Asian countries including, Malaysia, Burma, Thailand and Singapore. Kevin and I in India is Frank’s journal of his time in India with fellow traveler Kevin Bloice. The two spend their time backpacking around India, visiting temples, villages, trying to avoid being swindled by con men and trying to survive public transport and questionable food.
The book was first published in 1986 so I was eager to see what travel was like in the 80s. Most of the diary entries centered on temples, public transport, the hostels and local people. I don’t remember all the temples that the two men visited as it seemed all the same after reading the diary entries. Frank’s journal is very detailed that I can imagine being present during his holiday. I particularly thought his descriptions of the hostels he stayed at were quite vivid. I could picture thread bare mattresses and the horde of cockroaches and appreciate the cleaner rooms that had good pillows and air conditioning.
There was also a good deal mentioned about the chaotic transport in India which is still the same in the present time. I liked reading the descriptions of being squished into buses and trains, riding on the roof and surviving near collisions. I also learnt that buying a ticket for a train or bus can be a tricky thing in some circumstances. It can involve lining up in a queue to get a ticket which can take a few hours and then having to line up again to get it stamped. After that process, the bus/train could already be gone or not show up. However, I am an optimist and believe that transport must have improved at least a bit during the years.
The two men also seemed to encounter a lot of people who tried to swindle them. There were always people promising them better deals to accommodation, food and travel and sometimes they lived up to their promises and other times they didn’t. They also met a lot of good local people as well who helped them and told them interesting stories about their lives.
The part of the book that I liked the most was when Frank wasn’t in India. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy reading his experiences in India, it was just that life was a bit more calmer. Frank spent a short time in Nepal during the last leg of his travels. I liked reading about the villages, the mountain air and the peacefulness. He still experienced hardships such as a tortuous account of diarrhoea on an hours long bus ride and no toilet paper and perilous forays into the countryside.
I would have liked if he had included pictures of his adventures but there is a map and about two pictures in the book. While reading the book, I thought about the technology in the 80s compared to what we have now. There was no Google Maps, Facebook and Instagram. When people go on holiday in the present day, they can instantly upload their pictures and videos onto social media so
they can brag and loved ones can see that they are safe. In the past, people had to use to post letters
or they would wait until they got home to share stories about their adventures.
In the author’s notes, it says that Frank goes back to India and has been several times. I think it’s nice he gets to reminisce about his Indian adventure and he gets to learn new things about the country. Although I have never been to India, I think of it as a place that always gets better and forever changing. I would love to go to India but not as a backpacker. After a long day of adventuring, I’d rather a nice place to sleep and a good shower.